Any car enthusiast will attest to you that the joy and the pride in driving is the roaring noise produced by a running engine. But this joy and pride won’t be the case always. A running engine will produce different kinds of noise depending on its condition and how well it is serviced. One of such noises is the ticking noise when accelerating that forms the core of this writing.
A car’s engine comprises many moving parts. These many moving parts are bound to produce all kinds of sounds ranging from usual to unusual. The sounds will be distinctive depending on the condition of your engine. The sounds can only be felt when the engine is running.
Many a time these kinds of noises can be very difficult to notice. In some instances, the noises may seem very unusual such as the ticking noise. A ticking sound emanating from the engine bay when the engine is running should not be taken as normal.
Therefore, this type of noise should not be ignored at any time it is identified. Arrangement to have this fixed should be done immediately after the sound is heard. This is regardless of whether it happens when the engine is idle or accelerating at high speed.
Problems associated with the engine are issues car owners would not wish is mentioned any time they take a car for service. This is because problems associated with engine repair are often very expensive fixes. But this is not the case always.
When an engine-related problem emerges and is ignored for a long time, this is what breeds a major problem. This is why matters concerning the engine need immediate fixing before the problem can escalate further.
Contents of this article entail;
Is Ticking Noise When Accelerating Normal?
Any kind of noise that emanates from the engine is always a cause for concern. This, therefore, means it should not be ignored or taken lightly. A ticking noise should not be an exception. It can sometimes be very difficult to identify ticking noise when you are accelerating the car.
You have to leave the engine on idle to be able to distinguish an unfamiliar ticking noise from the familiar engine noise from moving parts.
Ticking noises can also be produced beneath the hood of your vehicle. These are considered normal and should not cause any alarm. The following are the several parts that produce ticking noise that require no intervention;
The main function of a purge valve is to release gasses stored from the charcoal canister into the intake of the engine, where they are burnt. When the purge valve carries out this function, a ticking noise is produced.
When the PCV valve starts to wear out, it will produce ticking noise from time to time. Though, this should not be anything to worry much about. This is because a PCV valve can easily be replaced in case the noise becomes unpleasant.
Fuel injectors are actuated using an electronically instigated method. Ticking noise can also be heard from the engine’s fuel injectors when these vehicle components are functional. The main role of fuel injectors is to inject the required amount of fuel into the engine to facilitate combustion.
Causes Of Ticking Noise When Accelerating
Engine-related ticking noises can be traced from numerous possible causes which can vary on how severe they are. While some ticking noises can be easily identifiable, others are very difficult to notice.
A strange ticking noise from your engine is a sign that your engine is struggling to provide enough power to move the car. The following will be some possible causes of ticking noise in the engine;
Low Engine Oil Levels
An engine without enough oil will always develop mechanical problems which are caused by overheating and excessive wear and tear. Low oil levels can also contribute to the development of ticking sounds.
This will be because of inadequate lubrication that occurs when there is not enough oil in your engine to help it run smoothly. When there is not enough oil, the metal components in the engine are forced to aggressively rub against each other therefore producing a ticking sound.
When there are low oil levels, the little that remains will not be sufficient to lubricate the upper section of the engine. This can create a ticking or shrill tapping sound when the engine is running. In most cases, valve train components and the timing chain are the main components causing the ticking noise.
The engine’s rod consists of bearings attached to it. When the bearings wear out, the rod knocks around causing the tickling sound. When the bearings are worn out they make the rod move. As it shifts around, a ticking sound is produced. The rod knock will not cause the engine to overheat but it will cause the engine’s RPM to change significantly.
If the root cause of a ticking noise is the knock, the only solution that will help stop the ticking noise will be to have the entire motor replaced. Although purchasing a motor might be very expensive, a replacement is inevitable mainly because any other fix will just be temporary.
Leaking Exhaust Manifold
When the exhaust manifold starts to leak, this can also cause the engine to produce a ticking noise during acceleration and idling. A leak in the exhaust manifold causes the exhaust gasses to leak from the manifold when under high pressure. When the exhaust gasses try to escape, they will produce a ticking sound.
A leak in the exhaust manifold may not appear to be something of serious concern. This is because you can still drive even with the leak in place. The only disadvantage is that the noise can be super annoying. However, as a rule of the thumb, any malfunction in the vehicle should not be ignored. Doing so may breed more serious problems in the long run. A leaking exhaust manifold is not an exception. You will still need to have it fixed because excess leakage may not go down well with your engine.
Loose Or Faulty Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are very crucial in helping to absorb the explosions produced when the engine runs. When the spark plugs are loose or when they crack, a ticking sound is likely to be produced when driving the car.
If you have a loose or cracked spark plug, or when the torque is not correct. The spark plug will not be able to provide a spark when starting the car. It will also produce weird sounds when driving.
The best remedy to a cracked spark plug is to replace it. Remember also that, a bad spark plug can also strip the cylinder head thread. This may also compel you to replace the cylinder head threads as well.
Out Off Adjustment Valves
When the valve train is not adjusted correctly, this can also cause a ticking sound. Commonly, the major root cause of a ticking noise in your car will be a loose valve train. Therefore, in case of any ticking noise in your car, the valve train should always be the first place to begin your check.
The valves have to move fast for a short distance. If their adjustment is not strong enough, they can make wrong movements. It is these wrong movements that eventually manifest a ticking sound when accelerating at high speed.
Remember that a valve train consists of several components that work together as a unit. If any of these components are worn out, you will have a ticking sound mainly because the distance the valves will move will not be precise.
Damaged Engine Accessories
The front of the engine comprises several accessories that move when the engine is running. These engine accessories can also cause a ticking sound. They include the belt tensioners, pulleys, AC compressor, and water pump.
If any of the engine accessories are damaged, one of the most common symptoms they usually exhibit is a ticking sound. This weird noise will be produced when you are driving. A mechanic’s stethoscope can be a very important tool to help you decipher which component among these is having a problem.
However, even with this important tool, you will still need the required skills and knowledge to identify the exact cause of the ticking noise from this section. Therefore, it would be better to have a mechanic fix your car if you have identified that the engine accessory is the main root of the ticking noise when accelerating.
Normal wear and tear are also one of the most common causes of a ticking noise when driving. This is an obvious situation because when the different engine components wear out, they may not run as smoothly as they used to run when they were still new with high efficiency. This means they will start producing weird noises one of which is the ticking noise.
One such component which will produce weird sounds upon wearing out is the fuel injector. Fuel injectors comprise tiny nozzles that tend to make noticeable tapping or ticking sounds when they wear out and start clogging.
Some fuel injectors in some models of cars often produce ticking sounds when they are injecting fuel into the engine. Therefore, in this situation, the ticking noise should not be a problem. You just need to identify the type of fuel injectors you have in your car and the type of noise they produce when injecting fuel.
Damaged Engine Fan
Tapping or ticking noise from the engine can also be a result of a loose or damaged engine fan. When the fan is damaged or when it is loose, it does not remain in its place. As the vehicle accelerates, the fan keeps on tapping on the surrounding engine components, therefore, causing the ticking noise.
When this happens, make sure you take your car for inspection by a qualified mechanic it will help you know if you have a problem with your engine fans. If the fans do not exhibit any form of cracks on it, you can also check the clips and the bolts as they can also be loosened by the cause of the same problem.
How To Fix Ticking Noise When Accelerating
Having now known the possible reasons that can lead to the emergence of ticking noise when accelerating. The next step of action is to know how to deal with such a problem when it arises.
Fixing ticking noise when accelerating is not that complex. You only need to fix the underlying problem and the noise would disappear. This can be done in four different steps which include;
STEP 1: Maintain A Regular Timely Service To Your Car
Regular and timely car maintenance is always the best remedy towards tackling car mechanical issues before they can become more severe. Sometimes it is all you need to help fix smaller chunks of car issues such as the ticking noise when accelerating.
The ticking noise will sometimes be caused by low oil levels. Therefore, a simple service like adding more oil to the engine can simply fix the problem.
Additionally, during routine maintenance check-ups, other issues such as loose clips and bolts on the engine fan, loose spark plugs that cause the ticking noise can be fixed by just using a simple method of tightening the bolts.
Other problems that may be a bit complex can also be identified and fixed before they can get severe and lead to more costly damages. It is not a good decision to ignore taking the car for routine service just because the car has not exhibited any malfunction symptoms.
STEP 2: Decipher The Main Root Of The Problem
If servicing the car does not offer any amicable solution to the condition of your car, then you will need to give your car a thorough inspection from a professional car mechanic. This thorough inspection should mainly concentrate on the engine area to help fix the problem.
A thorough engine inspection should focus on components that contribute to the general functionality of the engine such as the spark plug to determine if they are worn out or damaged. The inspection can also point to the valve train that is commonly known to be the number one source of ticking noise when they have issues.
A thorough and complete engine inspection should allow you to identify the underlying issues that need to be fixed. Sometimes these issues may require scanning of the vehicle’s computer to extract any OBD 2 fault codes that may have been stored by the computer. These fault codes can help to diagnose all the problems that may have led to the codes being stored in your onboard computer.
STEP 3: Repair Or Replace The Faulty Parts
After the faulty parts or components have been identified using the OBD 2 scanner, the step that follows will be to have them fixed or replaced. Whether fixing the part will involve replacing, repair or cleaning, this will greatly depend on the vehicle’s mechanical part that is to be fixed. The type of service will also depend on the extent of the problem at hand.
However, to ensure you are on the safe side, it is always advisable to replace any parts that may be the root cause of the ticking noise when accelerating. Sometimes repairs alone don’t offer a permanent solution as the problem may keep coming back again and again after a short while.
Quite often car owners get worried when any mechanical problems emanate from the engine and will do all they can to make the service as cheap as possible by avoiding replacing the worn-out parts but would rather opt for a repair.
Yes, it is known that engine problems can be very expensive to fix but you would rather incur an expensive expense once and have the problem fixed permanently than opt for a shortcut that would end up being expensive in the long run.
STEP 4: Perform A Test Drive To Confirm If The Issue Is Resolved
This would be the final step to take to help confirm if the problem has been fixed. You cannot just be certain that the root issue has been repaired by just replacing and repairing the problematic parts. You will have to take the car for a test drive.
The ticking noise is always more pronounced when you are driving from moderate to high speed. Therefore, you have to take your car to a place far from the neighborhood or far away from a busy street where you can test all these speeds.
During the test drive, keep a clean ear since the noise can sometimes subside but not go away completely. This is why trying all the speeds is necessary.
If in any case the noise is still there or maybe you are not skilled enough to pinpoint the root source of the problem, the only alternative that is left is to have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic. They have the skills and the tools necessary to diagnose the root cause of the problem with ease.
Why Ticking Noise When Accelerating After Oil Change?
Sometimes you may find that the engine of your car starts making ticking noise immediately after an oil change. This may end up worrying you much for no good reason especially when it starts just after an oil change.
The engine’s health is dictated by its ability to circulate a clean and proper volume of oil. Oil should always be changed at designated service intervals and if this is not done and the oil was left to drop below the designated operating capacity, several issues can quickly arise and compound the problem.
If the oil has recently been changed but your car keeps on producing the ticking noise, it is imperative to conduct several tests both visual and non-visual to your car. The following steps can quickly help in conducting and completing your inspection.
Check Oil Levels
The first thing to do is to check the oil level. There can be a possibility it was not filled to its full operating level when it was changed. If you find out that the level is indeed low, add more oil until the recommended capacity is reached.
Check For Leaks
You can visually inspect the oil filters and the oil drain plug for possible signs of escaping oil. A piece of cardboard can be placed under the car running engine and left to sit there for some time. The cardboard can later be removed and inspected for possible oil leakage signs.
Check For Drain Plug And Oil Filter Tightness
Any oil leakage should help you check the drain plug and the oil filters to confirm if they are loose. It can be possible that either of these two could have been tightened well during the oil change and may serve as the source of the ticking noise induced by a leak.
Note that there are several notable causes of engine-related ticking noise just after an oil change. By addressing the issue of this magnitude promptly can help in mitigating the occurrence of more serious and permanent engine component damage.
Here are some of the possible causes of a ticking noise just after an oil change:
- Low oil level
- Loose oil drain plug
- Loose oil filter
- Faulty oil filter check valve
Ticking Noise When Accelerating Vs. Knocking Noise
It can sometimes be difficult to decipher the difference between a ticking noise and a knocking noise. Ticking noise is always higher in pitch and closer in context to rattling sounds of some sort.
On the other hand, an engine knock sounds more like a repeated hammering and is often much louder compared to a ticking sound.
A knocking sound is also far more serious than a ticking sound. This usually signifies severe engine issues than the ticking sound. The knock normally emanates from the engine’s rotating components. Engine knocks are caused by:
- Piston slap
- Worn bearings
- Incorrect timing
- Carbon deposits
- Low fuel octane
Engine Ticking Noise Facts:
- Hearing a loud engine ticking noise while driving can be stressful.
- This article covers 6 potential reasons for the ticking noise and how to fix them.
- Low oil pressure or level, misaligned valves, misadjusted lifters, faulty spark plugs, rod knock, and exhaust leak are some culprits behind the ticking noise.
- Fixing the ticking sound depends on its cause, such as changing or topping up engine oil, using oil additives to clean engine parts, changing damaged spark plugs, realigning lifter, or replacing engine pushrods.
- Repair costs of a ticking engine depend on locality, diagnosis, and labor charges, and common estimates are oil change: $50-150, spark plug: $115-200, pushrods: $600-1000, bearings: $900-1500 (depending on the car engine type), etc.
- Certain engine components may emit an engine tick normally, like fuel injectors, purge valve, or cold starting engine.
- Regular engine maintenance, like checking engine oil levels, using the right engine oil, and replacing damaged parts promptly, can reduce the risk of engine ticking noise.
Ticking Noise When Accelerating: Conclusion
The ticking noise that emanates from the engine can easily be ignored if it does not have any effect on the general performance of the vehicle in any way. As we had stated earlier some of the vehicle components listed earlier can produce ticking noise in their normal operation.
But this does not mean you overlook any ticking noise that you may find unusual. Fixing any unusual ticking noise especially those from the engine helps your car to run smoothly.
The annoying ticking noise will emanate from underlying issues such as worn-out spark plugs, rod knocking, issues with the valve train, and even low oil levels in the engine.
Most of these issues are not that complex or even expensive to fix. They are very simple and easy to fix engine problems therefore there should be no excuse to keep driving your car on a ticking noise. In most cases, vehicle maintenance will go a long way in preventing the issue.
This is why following a strict vehicle maintenance practice is necessary even when the car has not started exhibiting any mechanical problem. Prevention is always the best approach rather than waiting to cure.
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